Seasonal changes can affect people in different ways, with some feeling quite blue and low. However, the latest ‘Happy Hit’ is available in the form of flowers.

Flower Sense has been created to serve the growing natural health community and is committed to increasing the awareness of the remarkable healing properties of flower remedies. They explain that ‘flower essences are energy remedies. Their action is not physical but works on the subtle body which of course may act on the physical. Their effects may vary for different individuals.’ Flower sense is founded by Clare Harvey, internationally known author of authoritative books on Flower Essences.

Chris Phillips from Flower Therapy UK is an experienced flower essence therapist who has worked with flower essences both personally and professionally over the last 30 years. Chris specialises in working with clients to uncover their individual blockages or imbalances, tailoring the programme of therapy to each person’s unique needs. Chris says ‘Flower essence therapy is the practice of using flower essences to restore balance between mind, body and spirit. Flower essences work by tackling the emotional and mental states which are often at the root of, or strong contributing factors in, most types of illness.’ 

Chris has also written a book ‘Treating Depression Naturally: How Flower Essences Can Rebalance Your Life’,  Flower essences can tackle the emotional and mental blockages that often lie at the root of illness. First popularised as a holistic treatment by Dr Edward Bach, creator of the popular Rescue Remedy, flower remedies are used by millions of people daily. Chris Phillips, a flower essence therapist with over thirty years experience, incorporates Bach’s and other flower essence systems in this helpful handbook, allowing you to tailor treatments to your unique needs and circumstances. Packed with insight, inspiration and real-life stories, Treating Depression Naturally offers a new way of thinking about and managing your anxiety and depression.



When you suffer from an injury or a long-term illness which leaves you less mobile, it can feel as if you are losing your independence and your ability to do what you want in life. Not being able to move as you used to can put a strain on your relationships and even leave you feeling introverted and shy. However, there are ways you can still feel happy and confident even if you are unable to move in the same way.

Get Moving

Although the single most prominent issue with being disabled is the struggle to move around, it does not mean that you should give up the idea of staying fit and healthy completely. With initiatives such as the Blue Badge Mobility Hire you can still go out alone and have the chance to live your life as you did before. Sure, you won’t necessarily be able to lift many weights in the gym anymore, but you can find different forms of activity to keep you fit. For example, you can take the time every weekend to go out into the countryside for a walk. You might not be able to walk too far, but it will still give you some fresh air and strengthen your muscles.

Use Water

The beauty of water is that it allows you to move around without putting that extra strain on your muscles. If you cannot leave weight on your hips or your knees, aqua aerobics could be the perfect way to keep fit and strengthen your muscles. It can allow you to stay fit, strong and have fun without hurting yourself. It is not too physically demanding for you and will always be available to you at your local pool. You can even ask your GP to refer you to an aquatic trainer.

Stretching and Dancing

Sometimes feeling independent and in control of your own life is more than just physical, it can also be mental. It has been proven that exercises like Yoga and dancing can be great for confidence building and for the soul. If you are having a difficult week and you aren’t sure what to do, you can go dancing and have some fun while meeting new friends, or perform gentle stretches and clear your mind. It is important to remember to take time out for yourself during the week because it will make you feel more in control. It will allow you to focus on your health and happiness, and in turn, you will feel more independent.

Eat Well

Remember that what you put into your body will have an effect on your health and how you feel moving around, it is simple science and means that if you do struggle to move around, you must take a little more care to add foods into your diet which will keep your joints healthy. For example oily fish contain amazing oils which will help keep your muscles lubricated and aid movement, so by eating at least one portion of oily fish a week, you will gain more independence.


Pain News Network recently wrote about a study which found that many treatments for back pain are ineffective.

It says that in a series of reviews in The Lancet a team of researchers found that back pain is quite often treated with the wrong advice including, inappropriate tests, risky surgeries, and painkillers.

They put that “The majority of cases of low back pain respond to simple physical and psychological therapies that keep people active and enable them to stay at work,” says lead author Professor Rachelle Buchbinder of Monash University in Australia. “Often, however, it is more aggressive treatments of dubious benefit that are promoted and reimbursed.

The best type of treatment they recommend is primary care in the first instance and keep mobile, active and continue to work.

Most people with a new episode of back pain can recover quite quickly but the same problem can reoccur again and then take longer to heal the next time. Counseling, exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy are other treatments advised with spinal manipulation, massage, acupuncture, meditation, and yoga as second-line treatments.

The Lancet authors say patients should avoid harmful and useless treatments, and doctors need to address widespread misconceptions about their effectiveness. For example, there is limited evidence to support the use of opioids for low back pain, and epidural steroid injections and acetaminophen (paracetamol) are not recommended at all.

Pain News Network also wrote that the findings in The Lancet series are similar to those reported in other medical journals. A 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that regular exercise and education reduce the risk of developing lower back pain by as much as 45 percent.

Back in 1982 after my second episode of back pain which left me bent over, I was referred to an orthopedic consultant who put me on traction for a week in the hospital. To this day I have lasting problems from that traction. My first spinal surgery was in 1987 and I had a lumber discectomy for spinal bifida and a disc herniation and canal stenosis. Twelve months later I had to have further surgery but this time in my neck for a serious cord compression and a prolapsed disc which meant a two level fusion at C3/4.


By 1996 I needed further cervical surgery and in 1999 further lumber surgery. I have to agree with the primary care they suggest you have but unfortunately for some, all the treatment in the world will not sort the pain out unless you have surgery. I am sure like me anyone who has undertaken spinal surgery did not have it done unless it was very necessary. I was told I could not even pick up my young daughter as there was a risk of paralysis because the disc was in such a mess.

I do agree however that spinal surgery is not a quick fix and further problems were partly due to my initial surgeries but the only other option I was given was to have a plate inserted in my back from top to bottom.

With so many people, around 540 million people at any given time, suffering from back pain it is obvious that it is a very serious health problem to deal with.

Maybe some form of education about this should be introduced at school so children know from a very early age how to sit correctly (deportment was a factor when I was at school) and how to pick up and carry items, how to keep fit and watch their weight in order to avoid spinal problems in their adulthood.



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Action for ME is a UK charity which helps support and helps make a difference to people suffering from M.E.

What is ME ? – ‘Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.) is a long-term (chronic), fluctuating, neurological condition that causes symptoms affecting many body systems, more commonly the nervous and immune systems. M.E. affects an estimated 250,000 people in the UK, and around 17 million people worldwide.

People with M.E. experience severe, persistent fatigue associated with post-exertional malaise, the body’s inability to recover after expending even small amounts of energy, leading to a flare-up in symptoms.

Not everyone will experience the exact same symptoms so it’s important not to compare someone who has M.E. to another person who has the illness. People with M.E. can vary enormously in their experience of the illness, and also how long their symptoms last. Some make good progress and may recover, while others can remain ill for a number of years and may not get better. Some people find that they don’t go back completely to the way they felt before they became ill, but they do recover sufficiently to lead happy and fulfilling lives. This is similar to many other chronic illnesses.’

Fibromyalgia sufferers understand what it’s like to suffer from chronic fatigue but M.E sufferers experience this in a much bigger way, a way which most people could not comprehend.  Several descriptions of illness resembling those of M.E and chronic fatigue syndrome have been reported for at least two hundred years but they say that ‘a lack of understanding and awareness about M.E. means patients can experience disbelief, and even discrimination, from friends, family, health and social care professionals and employers.’ Sounds familiar?

Fibromyalgia, CFS, and M.E all seem to have a similar pattern of not being accepted as a genuine condition or people suffering without a diagnosis. The only way to raise awareness of these conditions if for sufferers and carers to highlight the plight they are in. Action for M.E is just one of those charities trying to raise awareness of the condition. They take action to end the ignorance, injustice, and neglect faced by people with M.E. They do that by helping to improve the lives of people with M.E.  while taking action to secure change for the future. Read more about this in their 2016-2021 strategy.

Their mission is empowering people with M.E. to fulfill their potential and secure the care and support they need while working towards a greater understanding of the illness and ultimately a cure.

You can listen to a recent interview on March 16th on BBC Radio Bristol where their CEO Sonya Chowdhury spoke with presenter John Darvall about young people with M.E.

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You can donate ‘Give Big for Me‘ to help fund vital information and support services for people suffering from M.E.




Pain management consultants have been recommending anti-depressant pills to cure intractable pain for quite a while now.

It was discovered 30 years ago that a side-effect of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) was to block the pain pathway to the brain. However, many GPs remain unaware of this or are reluctant to use them because of their association with mental ill-health.

Yet specialists who treat back pain say TCAs such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline are excellent when conventional pain-killing drugs fail to work. TCAs seem to increase the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which in effect raises the pain threshold, so most pain is not felt.

To work as an anti-depressant, the drugs need to be taken in doses of as much as 150mg a day. For pain relief, they are prescribed normally at no more than 25mg. Experts say that at low doses and taken for up to six months, anti-depressants are non-addictive and side effects are rare, though some people may experience drowsiness or a dry mouth.

I have been on amitriptyline for a number of years now and have played around with different doses to get the best effect but anything over 30mg does cause a very dry mouth. It was so bad with me sometimes that I could not get my words out properly but it definitely helps you to sleep. I recently saw Roger Knaggs who was appointed Associate Professor in Clinical Pharmacy Practice at the University of Nottingham in September 2011 to provide a highly specialist pharmacy service to the Pain Management Service at NUH.

My pain consultant had made me an appointment to talk about the medication I am on. I found out more tips in that appointment than I have known for years. One of which I put into practice straight away. For years I have been taking my amitriptyline just before I go to bed and if I wake up at night and cannot go to sleep then I take another. This was, in fact, the wrong thing to do as the effect would then last well into the morning. He suggested I take it around 8.30pm and if I wake up in pain to take a Tramadol rather than the amitriptyline.

He decided that because I have been on the amitriptyline for so many years that maybe it was time to change it for nortriptyline.

According to a leaflet written by the Isle of Wight NHS – Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline are medicines used to treat depression and relieve chronic pain.

They are often helpful for nerve related pain, for high pain sensitivity (also called central sensitisation) and if the pain is leading to sleep disruption. Their effect is different from standard painkillers, so are often prescribed in combination. As they affect the central nervous system in complex ways, the effect often takes a while to be felt and requires regular intake. Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline won’t help your pain if taken as needed. We recommend a trial of at least four weeks to judge the pain relief effect. If good, it
may be taken on a regular long-term basis; if there is no distinct relief they should be discontinued after the trial period.

So, in a nutshell, they both work for pain it is just acase of finding which one suits you the best.